We, the members of the DDGC collective, wish to reaffirm our commitment to center the humanity of colleagues placed into contingent precarity at institutions of higher learning. We decry regimes of oppressions that confine and underpin the adjacent disciplines of German studies and German-language teaching. In this post, members of the Ethical Hiring Action Group, together with the members of the DDGC steering committee and 2021 Labor Justice Town Hall Organizing Committee, pledge an ongoing commitment to labor justice. Looking inward at our own practices, we outline a series of considerations and guidelines to take into account when distributing information about available positions on our DDGC listserv.
The Crisis of Humanity in the Humanities
At its heart, the adjunctification and contingency of faculty at institutions of higher learning is becoming a crisis of humanity. Looking into the situation of higher ed faculty, the AAUP noted in 2018 that “the majority of faculty members are contingent workers who work without the protection of tenure.” They identify the percentage of faculty members who are not tenured or tenured track as reaching 73% in 2016. As they note, this overwhelming percentage of contingent, adjunct, and graduate student labor are by the nature of their appointments not granted academic freedom or stability and traditionally are not allowed to participate in conversations or decision-making processes relevant to their own working conditions.
In addition to these inequities, the AAUP’s 2020 data snapshot highlights how long-lasting disparities adversely affect women faculty and faculty of color. Although women comprise 47% of full-time faculty (as opposed to 32% in 1991), for example, they occupy the majority of non tenure-track appointments. A consideration of salary reveals how the issue encompasses economics, as “salaries for full-time women faculty members are approximately 81.2 percent of men’s with women earning $79,368 and men earning $97,738 on average.” The AAUP’s 2020 report highlights how underrepresentation of faculty hires specifically targets Latinx and Black colleagues through systemic racism(s). Their 2020 inquiry reveals, for example, that Latinx and Black faculty make up a mere 12.9% of full-time appointments although these individuals constitute an estimated 32.6% of the United States population between the ages of 24 and 64.
These data confirm that now (as ever) is the time to reaffirm the full humanity of all underrepresented and undercompensated colleagues, mentors, and friends in higher educational sectors.
Reaffirming the Humanity of Job Seekers
Reflecting on the ethics of hiring within this system, we begin with a list of information helpful to candidates perusing job ads. We maintain that listing the following up-front in job ads should be considered the bare minimum. These baseline expectations are inspired by the MLA’s Guidelines for Search Committees and Job Seekers.
Your job ad should list clear expectations and communication about:
We recognize that transparency and clear communication are crucial and inform each candidate’s decision-making (whether to apply, what to ask for with an offer, whether to take an offer) regarding the position. While we are aware of administrative guidelines that sometimes prohibit listing all of these items, we encourage search chairs to use the MLA guidelines and this document to push back against such policies. Applying for positions takes a considerable amount of time and resources for applicants, and so up-front, clear, and transparent information is paramount.
On the Positionality of Positions
In addition to transparency, we suggest each hiring committee reflect on their own positions of advocacy as they relate to hiring and contingent labor. We provide further considerations for each point, should this be lacking.
DDGC List Posting Guidelines
Our collective thrives through exchange and community. At the same time, we recognize that we each play a part in continuing—or countering—patterns of exploitations and contingency. To that end, we encourage all DDGC members to regard the DDGC listserv as an important tool that can help us reaffirm the humanity of contingent colleagues and job seekers. As such, we have created a list of things for you to consider before posting job advertisements via the list.
You can post a job ad on the DDGC List if it, at the minimum, meets the following:
You should not post an ad on the DDGC List if it is:
We will update these guidelines as necessary and welcome your input on how to improve the space. Contact: ddgcconnect [at] gmail [dot] com or one of the DDGC Steering Committee members.
The DDGC is not only committed to a labor justice movement in German Studies but is also proud to support its student, contingent, underrepresented, unemployed, and underemployed members. Countering the effects created by skewed dynamics associated with elitist, economic, and class-based violence requires more than performative utterances of support and consolation. Such a commitment brings us to consider practices of hiring and employment for those contingent and adjunct colleagues among us and our own complicity in upholding such structures of oppression and violence.
We hope that these guidelines will give programs another resource to use as they advocate for fewer contingent positions and more equitable hiring practices at their institutions. With your help and through our collective engagement, we can push for humane and humanity-nurturing practices in the humanities and language teaching.
AAUP. Data Snapshot: Contingent Faculty in US Higher Ed. October 2018.
AAUP. Data Snapshot: Full-time Women Faculty and Faculty of Color. December 2020.
MLA. Guidelines for Search Committees and Job Seekers.
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